Padlock Lake

I’ve fed dead fish
At Padlock Lake,
Five miles above
An old sluice gate.

Over yon way,
Beyond game-sedge,
A calf eats hay
At Ghost Farm’s edge,

I knew, like you,
From early ages
Through hardship and harm,
Through old Autumn breezes

Cold as a fist,
This inability to wish,
We dreamt of byres and
Troughs instead.

We pass by a polite
Chinese scientist
With one arm
And owls woven

On grey lapels.
Yon farmer exists
In a caravan balancing
Precariously

On rusting teeth.
Brambles and briar
Nettles and dock,
A solitary robin,

Red from the cross,
Her songs could span
An albatross, in flight,
Over oceans of moss.

Years later
I found a certain haven,
Pulling those fish ribs
From a peaty bog,

Not far from where
They found a body within
A concrete outflow pipe,
Naked, leaking, exposed.

Sometimes even gods
Of parks and lakes
Make human-seeming
Basic mistakes.

Piscatorial

Don’t rely on me, little fish,
I’ll only let you down;
I am cursed within a wish
To wear your funeral gown.

Peering through the water,
Turbid there, and brown;
You wanted me for a daughter,
Forgetting how I drown.

Innocent eyes ignoring
As my spear struck down,
My visage clearly imploring,
Fishbones in my crown.

The last late catch did bloat,
I had to purge myself;
Derelict, a dampening boat,
An underwater schismed shelf.

Don’t rely on me, little fish,
I’ve seen the seaweed’s truth;
I’ll be served with a citrus dish,
Pierced by a piscine tooth.

Soul Lash (or, Futility)

Sensing impermanence
In my self,
The essence
In the artifice
In the candle-flame
Of the wick
Where my older soul resides,
Well, in that distant place,
My soul lashed out
And slowly flapped
Until lamely she
Gasped one last name,
One last race to breathe,
Akin to a dull fish in shallows
Berating the sands and mudflats,
Berating that constant urge
Of nearby waters to flee
Scenes of my existence
And surge downstream
Away from me,
Though once my scales
Shone like polished heraldry
In folds of
Rainbow-golds
Shimmering
Iridescently.

Neon Dwarf Fish Tank Blues

There’s little nutritional
In minds of a fish,
Yet I too am moved
When you enter the room.
Uncontrollable impulse,
Electrolyte charge,
I ceaselessly swim
With a fast-beating heart.
Observing with eyes
Slight as a pin,
The grace of a human,
We’re closer within.

If I could say something
While beauty floats by,
My mouth would be filled
With chlorine and sighs.
Doomed only to witness
Your unlaced finesse,
As you brew a new coffee
And turn on a switch.
I died on your gravel,
I died on the lawn;
The soul’s multicoloured,
Alone I’m reborn.

The Meaning Of Fish

The meaning of fish
In my angling firth,
My minnow-mind slipped
And did not deserve.

Alluvial sediment,
Disinterment deferred,
Shifting sands seen
On a dark shiftless earth.

Croaker-bait,
Poison hook;
Reeled from a river,
My gauche gawping look.

The meaning of fish
Too late I would learn,
For if not for fish, or
Water-weeds or worms,

I would not exist
From a loch to the burn,
And my scaly-grey heart
Would no longer yearn.

Ode To A Parking Lot, No.2

Grief, do not disparage me,
Do not diminish my yearning
To observe the rites I will learn
In turn, by rote, just as oceans
Spurn the lode in mackerel bones
And whiting dreams and cod,
Fulfilling the needs in fishermen’s
Ganseys and hand-made
Tablecloths their wives
Once ironed, having washed,
On kitchen benches draped across,
Though sometimes a trawler
Or two were lost and the sea,
With blind unfeeling disbelieving
Reasons breeding in their peaks
And troughs, duplicitous sea,
Brought home only grief and loss,
Those I have known and those
I have not, as I cried on my own
At midnight in a parking lot.